Gnomeo and Juliet

29 Mar

Title: Gnomeo and Juliet
Year:
2011
Director:
Kelly Asbury
Writers: Kelly Asbury, Mark Burton, Kevin Cecil, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Andy Riley and Steve Hamilton Shaw, working on an original screenplay by John R. Smith and Rob Sprackling, inspired by the play by William Shakespeare
Starring:
James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Ashley Jensen, Matt Lucas, Patrick Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Julie Walters
MPAA Rating:
G
Runtime:
84 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
5.7
Rotten Tomatoes:
55%

I quite liked Gnomeo and Juliet, it was far from a perfect animated film, but it was really really fun, and the music it has goes a long way to making it have that effect. And though it sometimes feels a bit shaky, especially during the beginning, it’s also full of really cool moments that make it all work out wonderfully.

Though, to me, it could have done fine without being so self-referential. I mean, yes, a lot of the fun has to be with it being Romeo & Juliet with garden gnomes, and its title and jokes made out of the Bard’s material are quite silly and fun, but I feel like they invested too much energy to get in as many references as they can think of, the house numbers were “2B” and “Not 2B”, the glue brand was “the taming of the glue”, the moving companies were “Rosencratz”, “Guildenstern” and “As U Like It”, and I’m sure there were others I don’t remember right now, and a few others I didn’t really catch.

But yeah, other than that Gnomeo and Juliet was a very pleasant little surprise, and considering that four of the five new films I had seen since returning from my two-and-a-half week vacation were quite underwhelming (The Mechanic was the only okay one, and even that one wasn’t as good as this one), I found it extremely refreshing for a change. I mean, you know how it’ll all go because it’s Romeo & Juliet, and yet everything is so sweet and funny that it’s eighty-four minutes breeze by in what seems like a second and you’ll find yourself coming out if really happy about having seen it.

This one was done by Starz Animation, by the way, a company founded only in 2007, and that has to its name the VeggieTales movie and the Tim Burton produced 9, as well as a couple of animated TV series. And Gnomeo and Juliet is definitely a step in the right direction for the up-and-coming studio, and if they keep at it only good things will come their way, hopefully their work on the Hoodwinked sequel, which is due in late April, will also be a success.

But yeah, the tongue-in-cheek nature of Gnomeo and Juliet, them knowing full well how silly it was what they were doing, and how risky fun at the same time, is, I think, what keeps them from being able to soar to awesome heights, while at the same time while keeps it so damn fresh. I mean, as the film starts a gnome tells us that we’re about to see a story that’s been done before, a lot, and that we’re about to see it again, only done differently. And they’re definitely right about that one, we have different color gnomes representing the Montagues and Capulets, living in opposing house gardens. Not to mention Shakespeare himself makes an appearance in this one, in the voice of Patrick Stewart and as a living statue, and he has to see his tragic love story get a more cheerful finale.

I don’t think I want to tell you guys the story, since you probably know how the outline of it goes, and the differences in it are part of the fun and I don’t really want to spoil them. I’ll just say that you’ll enjoy Gnomeo and Juliet, a film that had probably the largest writing credits I’ve ever witnessed, and also an amount of British starpower that’s truly outstanding and a true joy to hear voice the little gnomes, and, as I said, the music also plays a big role here, as the use of Elton John songs really amps up some of the scenes to new levels of fun.

Go see Gnomeo and Juliet, I really do recommend it quite a bit, even though it references its own source material and a slew of other films quite a bit, it does so while never taking itself seriously, and just having fun, and that’s, I guess, what you can hope for from an animated film not from Pixar, a superficial escape from reality into pure fun, and that’s what this film provides. And, more importantly, it’s quite short, which is commendable considering how much they had to do, but they did, having everything in there without making it feel as though they were cramming it all in, but just at the right proportions and speed. A job really well done.

Grade: B

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